Living sensibly and saving money in the UAE

Published:  25 Oct at 6 PM
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For new arrivals in Dubai, it’s easy to get caught up in the endless overspending common to the emirate’s expat community.

Given that expats who relocate to Dubai are awarded high salaries and relocation packages for their trouble, it’s not surprising that most see their new job as an opportunity to save a good deal of money for their and their families’ futures. It’s also not surprising that, a few months on, they’re happily keeping up with the rest of the crowd and spending every last dirham on a luxury lifestyle. Obviously, there are a few expat exceptions to the rule, thus proving it’s possible to live a good life whilst overseas and save as well.

Due to the extreme heat of Dubai’s surrounding desert, electricity bills can eat away at even the most generous wage structure. Common sense solutions include reducing aircon usage between 12p.m. and 6p.m., when charges are at their highest. Setting the controls to ‘auto’ rather than ‘on’ can help regulate room temperatures as well as bills, and switching off all appliances when not in use eliminates standby usage. Fitting low-usage light bulbs and washing in cool water also reduce bills.

Saving money on groceries is easy given a little thought, and can make a big difference to your monthly outgoings. Comparing prices per unit when buying in bulk, selecting generic rather than brand name goods, making a shopping list and sticking to it, buying meat and fish by the exact portion needed, choosing frozen foods rather than those thawed out by the shop before display and keeping a close eye at the checkout are all money-savers.

Transportation can cost a packet unless you employ common sense when driving. It’s not necessary to warm up your car for ages before you set off, with 30 seconds the maximum needed. More than that and you’re wasting fuel. Filling your tank in early morning or later in the afternoon ensures the fuel you buy isn’t thinned out by the heat of the day. Once you’ve filled up with the denser fuel, it’ll slightly expand in your tank as the temperature soars. Fast driving and hard braking also wastes fuel, and turning off your engine when you can is another fuel-saving trick.
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